Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rising food prices mean rising poverty

Food prices are rising throughout the world. For those who live on a dollar or two a day the higher cost of food can be very damaging. The increase in price can mean the difference of a few more skipped meals or no food at all.

The World Bank says the record high food prices has brought more people into poverty. 44 million people have dropped below the poverty line in the last eight months. The numbers come from the latest World Bank food price index survey. The survey shows a 15 percent increase in food staples in that eight month time frame.

From Reuters, we read more about the survey results.

Across Asia and in some parts of Latin America and Eastern Europe countries, costlier food is pushing up inflation pressures, while good harvests of staple foods in Sub-Saharan Africa has so far spared that region from rising prices.

"Higher maize, sugar, and oil prices have contributed to increase the costs of various types of food, though local maize prices have largely been stable in sub-Saharan Africa," the World Bank said in an updated Food Price Watch report.

The report came days before a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies in Paris, where higher food prices is expected to be discussed.

Catastrophic storms and droughts have hurt the world's leading agriculture-producing countries, including flooding and a massive cyclone in Australia, major winter storms in the United States, and fires last year in Russia.

Crunching the numbers from 28 household surveys in poorer countries, the World Bank noted that in one-half of the samples it looked at, poverty increased by more than 0.5 percentage points due to rising food prices. In eight countries, poverty rose by more than 1 percentage point.

In Tajikistan, poverty is expected to rise by more than 3.6 percentage points due to higher food prices, and in Pakistan, a 1.9 percentage point increase in poverty is mostly due to higher wheat prices, the World Bank said.

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